Interview by Natalie Kuchik
October 27, 2009
Estrella: Can you please state your name and what you do in the band?
Adam: I’m Adam and I sing and play guitar.
Estrella: How has the Gaslight Anthem tour been going?
Adam: It’s been good, big shows, usually. The guys are nice, no complaints really, it is just a solid tour. It’s interesting to see a band like them that just recently had success and to see who comes out. They are just feeling out who their audience is and how big they are which is kind of interesting to watch. We have had the exact opposite career, we started miniscule and slowly over many years have gotten a little more successful this year. It is kind of cool to see it from the other side because they are really reasonable about it, they feel really lucky and they don’t expect to be huge forever, they just hope too. It is kind of cool to see people taking the situation respectably.
Estrella: After this tour, what are your plans?
Adam: We are going on the longest break we have ever had in 7 years. It is not really a break, we are, well here is what we are doing… We have a week off and then we start serious everyday rehearsal for our new record and then we are recording our new album at home. Then we have a couple of months off and our record will come out in early April. We are home, but we are also doing some work, but the idea of being at all is pretty great.
Estrella: Is the album written already?
Adam: I’ve got it written, but it is all here (points to his head). I’ve written out all of the lyrics but we have never practiced any of the songs and that is what we are doing at home. I write everything in my head, then I write it down so I don’t forget and I edit it on a computer for practicality.
Estrella: So, you write on a computer and not hand written?
Adam: Well, I did this record hand written but my handwriting is so atrocious, just horrible that I ended up putting it in the computer, it is just easier to edit on a computer I find.
Estrella: What is the theme or concept of the album going to be?
Adam: It is not a concept record like a lot of the other one’s where it’s got a story, but there a definitely some themes. I wrote the record mostly while I did a two week solo camping trip in the Smoky Mountains. I went out in the woods and spent two weeks without talking to another person. It was weird, well it was a lot of things. I felt so lonely but that was the whole idea was, that if I had nothing else to do but cook food, take walks, and write then I would have more time to dedicate to it. Our lives have gotten so busy, we tour two-hundred days in a year and the other days we re recording something or trying to recuperate. Our first thought is not, “Oh, I should write this song and be productive.” It is more like, “Oh, I want to watch fifty movies in three days.” You just don’t want to do anything, you just want too relax.
Estrella: What do you miss the most when you are on tour?
Adam: It is just those nights when you don’t do anything and I think everybody feels that way. You don’t realize that some nights, just going home and watching a movie while having a beer then going to bed early sounds like the perfect night in your mind. Even though we have fun every night on tour drinking and socializing and doing a show, but that part seems endless because there are no weekends and you barely have a day off. If you have a day off, you are usually driving somewhere or how many days in your hotel can you find exciting. I can tell you every layout of every Holiday Inn hotel.
Estrella: Your song “Comin’ Home” was featured in the Inglorious Bastards trailer, how did that come about?
Adam: Luck, I guess. We had been told when Grindhouse came out (that) they were interested in using one of our songs maybe, and then it didn’t happen. Then, I heard they were using one for Inglorious Bastards and we were like, “Oh, there must be someone a music director involved in the process that is a fan.” I never found out who it was, but one day we got an email to our publisher from Harvey Weinstein the producer saying they wanted to use “Comin’ Home” and “we will give this amount of money” and we were like, “money…alright!” It was kind of funny because we are big (Quentin) Tarantino fans and it was a very exciting thing for us and we love the movie.
Estrella: Oh, I loved the movie!
Adam: It was the best movie that I’ve seen in years. I love that he can make movies that are sort of action films, but mostly dialogue. The action scenes are so thrilling that you almost don’t want them to happen, because it is almost like real violence which you don’t want to happen.
Estrella: Murder by Death recently did an instrumental soundtrack for the book Finch, what was the process like? Was it more difficult writing for that than an album?
Adam: Scarier, because we have been so busy that we committed to the project, well the author emailed us, he is a fan and proposed the idea. We thought it was so strange that we had to do it. We were trying to figure out if we had time to do it because we generally don’t even rehearse. We tour so much that instead of rehearsing every once in a while and working on new songs, we do it all when we are done with an album. We have been touring since our last album came out March of last year and we have been touring since then. Starting in a week is our first opportunity to write, so we were wondering how the hell are we going to write this thing. What we did was we independently, as we would play our instruments, write parts that we thought could work for this scene. The idea of the project was to do something we have never done before which is to go into the studio with little ideas and then compose music around it. We picked all the scenes that we wanted to write music for and then we composed in the studio and recorded it as we were writing it.
Estrella: How did you guys get studio time?
Adam: We did a tour in Greece that started end of August and we had seven days off, but five days were spend in the studio writing and recording. It actually went really well, the ideas developed really quickly and we just got lucky. It was really fun, it was such a creative exercise.
Estrella: How much of your songs are based on your personal experiences and how much are based on fiction?
Adam: I like the idea of writing fiction for songs because I’m a movie and literature fan, more so than a movie fan. I thought it would be cool to bring more of that style to music. Think of an album as a movie and the songs are themes and that’s what I’ve been trying to do with those records. This new record is not going to be quite the same although each song independently tell a story within the song. I love the style of approaching a song as something that is more like a short story, to somehow try and communicate a whole world and a lot of ideas within four minutes. For me, I like the fun of creating a whole world in four minutes. As for true stories, there are true story songs and some are crazy and real, and some I took out of a feeling from a time once when I felt a certain way. I wrote a story around it or lyrics that expressed emotion but it may not be exactly how it happened. I am a lover of magical realism and I love to blur the line between reality and fantasy.
Estrella: I like that term.
Adam: Yeah, it’s great. My favorite authors, some of them, use that stuff.
Estrella: What is something that you have always wanted to do but have not done yet?
Adam: One thing I am doing is to visit every continent. I love to travel, I love adventures, I like being outdoors. We want to play everywhere and we are trying to play all of these crazy tours. We did Greece and Virgin Islands. Next year, we are going to Australia and Bermuda.
Estrella: Who are you going to Australia with?
Adam: We are going to headline a tour next fall. I love to see the world and I’m a food lover, I just love to try everything. The local foods and that sort of thing. I would like to play in South America because it seems like no one goes down there unless they are a huge band. There has got to be something set up, that would be fun because I have never been.
Estrella: What is one of your favorite lines in one of your songs?
Adam: We were talking about this earlier actually. There’s one I like from “Shiola” and the reason I like it is because there are certain words I refuse to use because I feel like they are over used.
Estrella: Which ones?
Adam: One of the words is hearts, I am so fucking sick of hearing things like, my heart, my heart. Stop being such a wuss, find some other way to talk about feeling shitty. I have always vetoed that word and then I wrote a lyric where I used it and was like, “Dammit!” For me, it was just funny because no matter how you feel about it, you find a way to do it. The line is, “My heart is overflowing, the love and anger coiled into one” and I just liked the idea. It feels really fun to sing and it was a way to express the emotion in an almost magical kind of way. It is not just, “Oh my heart aches”, or this and that. I use it again later, it is not like a fancy line or anything, “My heart just ain’t in it anymore” and it’s kind of funny because I used it twice and didn’t even realize it.
Estrella: What’s a song that you never get sick of hearing?
Adam: I really like The Rolling Stone song, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. The production is so cool, it changes beats and it changes moods. I think that song is absolute genius, that band really speaks to me. I understand why that band is one of the greatest bands of all time, if not the best… If I had to pick a band that was number one out of all the famous bands out there, I would say them.
Estrella: If you could see any band or artist perform any song live what would it be and why?
Adam: It’s funny because a lot of the bands I like are older bands, like The Animals. I imagine their show back in the 60’s were not quiet as mind blowing because it was such an early part of rock n’ roll but now with our ears we are used to something a lot grittier or crazier. I would love to see like Ray Charles play some small setting when he was earlier on. I’m a big Ray Charles fan so anything that he does would be awesome. I love “Georgia On My Mind” that is a good one. To see him in a smoking small club setting would be cool.
Estrella: Do you have any final comments?
Adam: Not really.
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